Silver Lining Animation Title

SLA – Learn How to Make and Animated Explainer Video

How to Make an Animated Explainer Video

Have you ever wondered how to make an animated explainer video? Whether you’re looking to make your own marketing videos or training animations, or you just want to know more about the exciting process of making animation, strap yourself in while we dive into the details!

 We’re no stranger to creating them, in fact it’s how we spend most of our time!  Here’s how we do it…

Researching for Animated Explainer Videos

The first step is to research your topic and have a clear understanding of the subject you want to explain and identifying the video objectives. In our case this often involves reading technical documents, conducting online research, or speaking with subject matter experts.

The next step of the planning is visual research! This involves making mood boards for characters, sets, and overall art style. These don’t need to be pretty, they’re a functional tool to inform the design work. Here’s an example of a typical moodboard we would put together.


Planning an Animation

Objectives set, and confident in the subject matter, the next step is planning the animation itself! We often start with a written narrative outline, which then informs a final script and storyboard.  The final script will set the tone for the project. You can think of a storyboard as a comic strip; it’ll show how things will be visualised, the composition, and how scenes will flow into one another. The art style in the storyboard is only rough and not how the final animation will look.

Need advice on this step? Get in touch with our team of experts!

Visual Development for Animated Videos

When the storyboard is finalised, we start planning out how everything will look in its final form! This includes drawing characters, backgrounds, important props, and well… everything! We usually start by exploring a few potential styles before we settle on one, and then create concept shots to act as a guide to make sure everything fits seamlessly! 

A typical 60 second explainer animation will need around 30 unique pieces of artwork. We do all of our art digitally using Adobe Photoshop and graphics tablets (Wacom or Huion are our picks)

Animation Tools

Most of what we create is animated in Adobe After Effects. Occasionally we’ll add in 3D elements using Blender, and if things need frame by frame drawing, we’ll use Photoshop or Adobe Animator

The animation process starts with our technical animator creating character rigs (like digital puppets) that the animators can manipulate. This step involves some custom programming (primarily javascript), and a few different plugins (DUIK being the main tool).

Animating the Animation

It’s finally time! With character rigs ready, it’s off to the animators! Character animation is an entire art form in itself so it’s difficult to summarise. In short, we primarily use the Pose-to-Pose method for blocking in key poses and facial expressions, before diving into the graph editor to manually adjust splines and offset different frames. A typical scene will go through 3 passes before we’re happy to mark it complete.